“Though not a perfect bill, it is an uplifting note in what needs to be a symphony of dedicated funding aimed at strengthening ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change and the biodiversity crises going forward. We now call on Congress to swiftly pass the Build Back Better Act.”
Today, President Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law. The law will make significant investments in wildlife habitat and green infrastructure over the next decade. It is one of the largest infrastructure investments in the nation’s history and garnered bipartisan support in the House and Senate.
“Though not a perfect bill, it is an uplifting note in what needs to be a symphony of dedicated funding aimed at strengthening ecosystem resiliency in the face of climate change and the biodiversity crises going forward,” said Mary Beth Beetham, legislative director for Defenders of Wildlife. “We now call on Congress to swiftly pass the Build Back Better Act.”
Among the notable wins for wildlife and habitat:
$350 million for a new wildlife crossings program to improve habitat connectivity for native species.
$250 million for the Legacy Roads and Trails program, which will enable the Forest Service to restore hundreds of miles of aquatic habitat to benefit imperiled fish and other wildlife.
$200 million for a national revegetation effort on federal and nonfederal lands, including implementation of the National Seed Strategy. These funds will help to scale up the use of locally adapted native plants to restore ecosystems after wildfires and other disturbances.
$200 million split evenly between the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to conduct invasive species detection, research, prevention and removal.
$500 million to both those departments to plan and implement prescribed burning to restore ecosystem integrity and conserve wildlife habitat.
While the bill does have many key investments in conservation, it unfortunately includes multiple provisions that limit environmental reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and interfere with judicial review. Similarly, some language in the bill around forest management and ecosystem restoration could lead to harmful impacts by side-stepping agency review and decision-making processes. These steps are important for ensuring that projects are ecologically and scientifically sound.